Kidnapping of Fr Whatner Aupont highlights Haitian crisis

A wave of unrest and kidnappings is causing a breakdown of national life in Haiti according to Mons Launay Saturné, Archbishop of Cap-Haïtien.

On Thursday 28 April a group of heavily armed bandits kidnapped several people, including Fr Whatner Aupont, priest of St Joseph the Worker’s church at Grand’ Ravine in the Diocese of Anse-à-Veau et Miragoâne. The kidnapping took place near Croix-des-Bouquets, an area on the outskirts of the capital Port-au-Prince.

Fr Whatner’s diocese of Anse-à-Veau et Miragoâne lies in the newly created department of Nippes, in the south-west of the country.  Representatives of the diocese immediately made an appeal to the police to carry out its duty of “protecting and serving” the people of Haiti and helping to set Fr Whatner free. The following day the diocese gave thanks for the release of the priest at Croix-des-Bouquets and asked for prayers for the liberation of other people who were still in the hands of the kidnappers.

In a statement to Aid to the Church in Need, Mons Launay Saturné said that the socio-political and economic situation of the country is becoming more and more complex. “The deterioration of the situation in the country is due to the multiplication of armed gangs, the constant cases of kidnapping, the ubiquitous insecurity, inflation, especially the rise in the prices of essential goods, bloody incidents and a flood of upheavals and acts of cruelty.”

The archbishop told ACN that people would like to go about their business but were terribly afraid. “Nobody knows how long this troubled situation, this political instability and insecurity is going to last. Many sectors and institutions of national life have become shaky and almost non-existent. No-one is spared from this insecurity. We are all exposed.”

In its statement the Diocese of Anse-à-Veau et Miragoâne also implores the help of St Joseph and of Mary “in the face of this new plague of kidnapping which is destroying the health, life, economy, families and social structures of our beloved Republic of Haiti”. It adds that those who hold political power should “prove their ability to protect lives and goods, in respect of the Constitution of human rights”.

ACN supported around 70 projects in Haiti in 2021, at a cost of more than 1.4 million Euros; above all, the charity has provided vehicles for pastoral care and supported religious formation for laity and priests.

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